The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny Contents

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

The Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 was set up on 25 May 2016 with the task of conducting post-legislative scrutiny of that Act. The Committee will be looking at the provisions of the Act, in its original form and with its subsequent amendments, at its implementation, and at related developments. The Committee has to report by 31 March 2017.

This is a public call for written evidence to be submitted to the Committee. The deadline is 2 September 2016.

It is helpful if opinions are supported by factual and statistical evidence where appropriate.

The Committee would welcome evidence from anyone with an interest in the operation of the Licensing Act 2003. Information on how to submit evidence is set out below. If you have any questions or require adjustments to enable you to respond please contact the Committee team: details also below.

The Licensing Act 2003 was intended to provide a means of balancing the broad range of interests engaged by licensing decisions–those of the entertainment and alcohol industries, small and large businesses, local residents and communities, policing, public health, and the protection of children from harm. Decision making under the Act was expected to balance these interests for the public benefit, rather than identify a ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ side. The Government said:

“Our approach is to provide greater freedom and flexibility for the hospitality and leisure industry. This will allow it to offer consumers greater freedom of choice. But these broader freedoms are carefully and necessarily balanced by tougher powers for the police, the courts and the licensing authority to deal in an uncompromising way with anyone trying to exploit these greater freedoms against the interest of the public in general.”

The Committee would welcome general views on whether the Act has achieved these objects. It would in particular welcome views on the following issues. You need not address all these questions.

Licensing objectives

1.Are the existing four licensing objectives the right ones for licensing authorities to promote? Should the protection of health and wellbeing be an additional objective?

2.Should the policies of licensing authorities do more to facilitate the enjoyment by the public of all licensable activities? Should access to and enjoyment of licensable activities by the public, including community activities, be an additional licensing objective? Should there be any other additional objectives?

The balance between rights and responsibilities

3.Has the Live Music Act 2012 done enough to relax the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 where they imposed unnecessarily strict requirements? Are the introductions of late night levies and Early Morning Restriction Orders effective, and if not, what alternatives are there? Does the Licensing Act now achieve the right balance between the rights of those who wish to sell alcohol and provide entertainment and the rights of those who wish to object?

4.Do all the responsible authorities (such as Planning, and Health & Safety), who all have other regulatory powers, engage effectively in the licensing regime, and if not, what could be done? Do other stakeholders, including local communities, engage effectively in the licensing regime, and if not, what could be done?

Licensing and local strategy

5.Licensing is only one part of the strategy that local government has to shape its communities. The Government states that the Act “is being used effectively in conjunction with other interventions as part of a coherent national and local strategy.” Do you agree?

6.Should licensing policy and planning policy be integrated more closely to shape local areas and address the proliferation of licensed premises? How could it be done?

Crime, disorder and public safety

7.Are the subsequent amendments made by policing legislation achieving their objects? Do they give the police the powers they need to prevent crime and disorder and promote the licensing objectives generally? Are police adequately trained to use their powers effectively and appropriately?

8.Should sales of alcohol airside at international airports continue to be exempt from the application of the Act? Should sales on other forms of transport continue to be exempt?

Licensing procedure

9.The Act was intended to simplify licensing procedure; instead it has become increasingly complex. What could be done to simplify the procedure?

10.What could be done to improve the appeal procedure, including listing and costs? Should appeal decisions be reported to promote consistency? Is there a case for a further appeal to the Crown Court? Is there a role for formal mediation in the appeal process?

Sale of alcohol for consumption at home (the off-trade)

11.Given the increase in off-trade sales, including online sales, is there a case for reform of the licensing regime applying to the off-trade? How effectively does the regime control supermarkets and large retailers, under-age sales, and delivery services? Should the law be amended to allow licensing authorities more specific control over off-trade sales of “super-strength” alcohol?

Pricing

12.Should alcohol pricing and taxation be used as a form of control, and if so, how? Should the Government introduce minimum unit pricing in England? Does the evidence that MUP would be effective need to be “conclusive” before MUP could be introduced, or can the effect of MUP be gauged only after its introduction?601

Fees and costs associated with the Licensing Act 2003

13.Do licence fees need to be set at national level? Should London, and the other major cities to which the Government proposes to devolve greater powers, have the power to set their own licence fees?

International comparisons

14.Is there a correlation between the strictness of the regulatory regime in other countries and the level of alcohol abuse? Are there aspects of the licensing laws of other countries, and other UK jurisdictions, that might usefully be considered for England and Wales?


601 The sub judice rule, referred to on the following page, means that witnesses should not comment on the latest stages of Scotch Whisky Association and others v The Lord Advocate and the Advocate General for Scotland, currently before the Inner House of the Court of Session. Comment on earlier stages of the proceedings, up to and including the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, is permissible.




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